Busting Brackets

Missouri Valley Basketball: 2024 Conference Tournament preview and predictions

Is Indiana State the team to beat in this season's Missouri Valley Conference Tournament? And who are the key players to watch? 
2023 Indy Classic - Indiana State v Ball State
2023 Indy Classic - Indiana State v Ball State / Michael Hickey/GettyImages
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Quarter Finals

# 1 Indiana State v. # 9 Missouri State


Dana Ford’s team lost each of its games with the league champions, but the second game was a mere two points. The Bears are talented enough to give the Sycamores a scare in this one. When they are on, guard Alston Mason and forward Donovan Clay are as good a duo as there is in the league. Mason finished third in the scoring race (17.6 ppg) and Clay’s five year career will see him accumulate over 1,600 points, nearly 900 rebounds, over 350 assists and almost 160 career games. 

Prediction: Indiana State 86 – Missouri State 74

# 4 Northern Iowa v. # 5 Belmont

Both of these coaches like to build with high school recruits but have been forced into the transfer portal. Alexander added Vanderbilt transfer Dia and Jacobson added Loyola's Hutson, but the bulk of their players are ‘home grown’. The matchup between UNI’s Born and Belmont’s Gillespie will be great theater. Cade Tyson could be the ‘X-factor’ in this game. He was dynamic in this very game last March. Look for Tytan Anderson to energize his team and dominate the glass. 

Prediction: Northern Iowa 77 – Belmont 75

# 2 Drake v. # 7 Illinois State

Drake (25-6, 16-4) came up with two easy wins over Illinois State, but the Redbirds are a different team now. They last played each other on January 17 and Illinois State has improved each week since then. Myles Foster gives people fits in the paint and Kinziger has become a scoring machine. That said, Darian DeVries is 9-4 in St. Louis and has never lost his team’s opening round game. 

Prediction: Drake 81 – Illinois State 65

# 3 Bradley v. # 6 Southern Illinois

We haven’t said much about the Bradley Braves (21-10, 13-7), but head coach Brian Wardle usually has his teams playing their best basketball this time of year. Wardle’s team pushed for the regular season title last season and then stumbled in St. Louis. They come to this year’s tournament a little hungrier. Bradley won the 2019 and 2020 tournament titles and his team is athletic and tough minded. They swept the Salukis in the regular season. Long and athletic Malevy Leons and Darius Hannah are difficult matchups for the smaller Salukis. The Bradley backcourt of Duke Deen and Connor Hickman can be outstanding. 

Prediction: Bradley 74 – SIU 62